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Local Media for Democracy project will support local media in EU news deserts

The Commission signed today a €2 million agreement with a consortium of four organisations to support a mapping of news deserts in the EU and a funding scheme to local and regional media located in identified areas.

Local Media for Democracy project will support local media in EU news deserts

© Mihajlo Maricic

The "Local Media for Democracy" project will start in February 2023 and will be coordinated by the European Federation of Journalists, in a consortium with International Media Support, and the European University Institute - Centre for Media Pluralism andFreedom (EUI-CMPF).

The proposal was selected in response to a Commission call for proposals to increase understanding around the pan-European news deserts phenomenon, and to increase the resilience of the local and regional media landscapes, in light of their key contribution to local democracy, social cohesion and civic participation.

More information on the project her

The project, to last 18 months, will consist of two activities.

The first activity is an analysis of the phenomenon of news deserts and a mapping of areas at risk. The result will take the form of an interactive map, as well as additional deliverables such as national mappings, pointing to communities having lost or at risk of losing access to quality, independent and plural news at local and regional levels. The mapping will be completed by the end of 2023.

The second activity will consist of a media funding scheme to the attention of local, regional and community media. At least 30 grants, totalling €1,200,000, will be awarded to outlets looking to bring innovation, e.g. into their revenue strategies, content format offer or engagement approaches. In addition, outlets will benefit from technical assistance (mentorship) to help them build their long-term resilience. The project will also identify and share across borders best practices of local and regional media transformation, culminating with a “Local Media Festival” towards the end of the project.

Local, regional and community media seeking financing will be able to apply for the grant scheme – to be operated by – as part of two calls, to published around March and July 2023. Details, including on eligibility criteria, will be published at a later stage. No co-financing will be required, and projects will be guarantee full editorial independence.

This project is the result of a Pilot requested by the European Parliament. In addition, the European Commission has recently issued a call for proposals worth €5 million to fund and reinforce the capacities of local and regional media – among other organisations delivering public interest news. The call is open until 27 April 2023. These initiatives are aligned with the Commission’s Media and Audiovisual Action Plan of 2020, of which local media was a focus.

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